Busting Out

Anna Nicole arrives at BAM.


In her brief life, Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith was better known for her physical (double D) and financial (millionaire by marriage) assets than for her acting accomplishments (Naked Gun 33 ¹⁄³). But in 2011, four years after Smith’s death at 39, the composer Mark-Anthony Turnage and the librettist Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: The Opera) gave the prima donna a stage. Their new opera, Anna Nicole, arrives at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on September 17 (through September 28), following a sold-out run at London’s Royal Opera House. “There was never a train crash between the institution and the subject,” says director Richard Jones, of the production’s Opera House origin. For BAM, Jones swapped the British cast for an American one, starring Sarah Joy Miller as the titular lead. Characters as varied as the oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall II (Smith’s late husband, 63 years her senior) and a troupe of sad flat-chested women sprinkle the saucy two-hour work. (Smith’s opening line: “I want to blow you all, blow you all—a kiss!”) Although the outsize mix of boobs and bel canto is wildly funny, when a menacing chorus of cameras closes in on our troubled heroine, the hilarity ends.

Photo: Pari Dukovic/courtesy of BAM